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Sunday, October 20, 2013

A single day for lies….

A single day for lies…. 

It was the season for slave trade in an Arabian city.. The marketplace was crowded with people exhibiting their black slaves for sale and also people eager to purchase them.. Just like a cattle market.

A trader was waxing eloquent about the capabilities of his merchandise.

  “ This kafir is just eighteen years, with a healthy body and very healthy teeth.  See his muscles like iron.  He can do all errands. He can carry luggage, chop wood, cook and do everything you want.  He eats very little  and sleeps still less. I reckon his price in the open market is as high as 2000 dirhams.  But I would gladly offer him to anyone for 1000 dirhams.”

  “Why the special offer”  Came the queries

“I want to confess that the fellow has a slight defect.  He will tell lies on one day in a year.”  Confessed the dealer.

“ What is so big about it?  Most of us  gentlemen  tell  lies, small or big..  More so, the menial slaves.”  Was the  general opinion of the onlookers.

A wealthy Arab businessman purchased the slave and led him to his house.  The deal  was very successful  for the businessman far beyond his expectations, so  it would appear   The slave was very genial, obedient  and  always an eager worker.  He doted on his master, mistress and their two children.

Then the day of reckoning came.

 It was new year’s day .  The businessman was throwing a party to all.  The new slave was in the vanguard  in making all arrangement., cooking food, sweetmeats, preparing sherbets,  conducting the guests to their seats  and running through a hundred other  errands.

The party was just starting the and family had not yet reached.. The master noticed that the provisions available might run out of stock  after some time and instructed the slave to go home and  fetch fresh supplies.

The slave set out atop a mule.

 En route,  the realization dawned upon the slave that it was his  day for telling lies.  He lost no time in executing his plans.  He tore off his garments and the scanty hair, started beating with both hands on his chest..crying loudly..” The wall  near the hall capsized and my master had been crushed to death.. My master is gone.. How am I to live now”.. To add greater effect he beat the mule hard and the animal also joined the chorus. 

 It was a pathetic sight for the mistress and the children.   

Learning about the death of the master of the house,  the lady and the children started crying. They tore off their clothes and started destroying the valuables available in the house.  The slave also heartily lent his hands in such destruction. 

 He further suggested that the mistress and the children should rush to the Khasi to report the death.  The slave said he would go back ahead of them  to the  hall where the master was lying  dead.

The slave rode back to the master continuing to wail and beating his breasts, and reported that the mistress and the children were killed when their carriage was destroyed after hitting another cart and they were  lying dead  on the  road on their way to the party..

The master was shocked, and started his own wailing.   He cancelled the party.  People who had gathered around started consoling him, but the businessman was  beyond any consolation.

Meanwhile the family had gone to the khazi, and  the khazi assembled as many  people as he could and  along with the family of the  businessman, all made a beeline to the 
spot where, according to the slave’ the wall has crushed his master. 

The procession, when it reached the spot of alleged tragedy, found the owner of the slave alive and kicking but  in a state of complete disarray, mourning over the loss of his family.  The slave was also sitting on a corner,  sadness writ large on his face and demeanour.

Seeing his family fully alive and healthy, the Arab was bewildered.

He  shouted at the slave, “You fool, what have you done?”  . 

And  he started beating the slave with a whip.

“No, master, you cannot punish me..  Have you forgotten what my earlier master had said about  my habit of telling lies on a single day every year.. This is that day.  And you must understand  that I was sold for half my real price for this reason alone.   I  may remind my master that it is only mid-day now and more time is left in the day.”

The Arab thought.  “ The wretched slave has created so much of damage within a few hours.. What would  happen if he stays  with me for the whole day?”

The very thought sent shivers along his spine, and he drove away the slave  without any second thoughts.

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